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BACK TO BASICS: Dear Marketing, How I Love Thee. Signed, Keywords 

by Jessica Lee on February 21, 2013

Audience: SEOs

Estimated reading time:  5 minutes


  • Discover how a marketing mindset and asking the right questions fuels keyword research and selection.
  • Read real-world examples of how this can be applied.

How do you perform keyword research? Is it driven by keyword tools? Is it driven by business conversations? Is it both? Last week on the blog, we published the ultimate content marketing outline, which showed how asking the right questions in the beginning of a project is crucial to a successful outcome.

In digital marketing, everything is interconnected. The relationships between seemingly different facets of the project almost always have a relationship. This is no truer than where we’re at now, when SEO and traditional marketing are becoming closer every day.

Today, we’ll explore the connection between business conversations, a marketing mindset and keyword research, and how they can enhance one another for a long-lasting outcome to your SEO and marketing plan.

Let Business Research Set Your Keywords Afire

Asking burning questions about the business and exploring curiosity is something that only fuels your keyword research. In the post I mentioned earlier, we talked about getting to know the business and its goals. This is a helpful step in your keyword research.

And running through the questions I’m about to share with you works even if you are the business and not an outsider interviewing the expert. Because oftentimes, we’re much too busy to sit down and think about this kind of stuff when we’re running a company.

Usually when people do keyword research, they start with a “seed” list of keywords, those words that they believe best describe the organization, products or services, and then go do the keyword research from there.

This is a great place to start, but think about some of the conversations you can have that will stimulate your keyword research like:

  • What are the top three business goals over the next year? Remember, it can be anything from thought leadership to increasing revenue in a specific sector/service/product.
  • How are these business goals affecting your current sales and marketing strategy?

Here’s a little story. At BCI, we work closely with the technical SEO team for the content side of search engine optimization. But sometimes, the conversations with the client happen separately in the beginning of the project, because the client will either first engage with the technical SEO side of the business or come in through the content side.

With this client, the tech SEO team had done their due diligence for keyword research and came up with a great roadmap for SEO. But when the content team stepped in, they dove more deeply into business conversations.

What we found out from these conversations is that the client had been planning on launching a reality TV show in the not-too-distant future with a television network surrounding the industry they’re in.

Kind of an important detail not to know, eh? The point is, asking great questions uncovers so many facets of the business that are going to be important for long-term planning.

With this new knowledge, we were able to start planning for another campaign. We could think about what keywords we’d target, and the content we’d create prior to the airing of the show, so we already had traction in that area. Because we knew the client would be getting a lot of visibility from the show and related searches online once it aired.

Get Intimate with Products, Services and the Audience

If we dive into the “why” behind the buy, we start to understand who the buyer is. Intimately understanding how the organization/business/products and services fit into your target market’s lifestyle can only expand the keyword research you’re doing, and help you make more informed decision about the keywords you’re finding.

Here’s some questions to help you prepare for your keyword research:

  • Why do people need this service/product/offering/information?
  • Why do people use this service/product? (This is a similar question but elicits a different response from the one above.)
  • What are the common problems that the product or service addresses and how?
  • What are the common questions they have at each stage in the cycle, from awareness about the topic/product/service/offering to the buy?
  • What matters to them and when does it matter (which part in the conversion cycle)?
  • Will that customer ever crossover to another segment of your business offerings? If so, which?
  • What are some related scenarios in the customer’s life that surround the topic/product/service/offering?
  • Are there taboo topics – things you can’t talk about?

In application, these questions are useful. See, keywords are just words without context, and if you don’t understand the business from every angle possible, you might end up making missteps in the keyword research and content plan.Winning with Keywords.jpg

For example, there are some industries that are highly regulated. In these scenarios, once you get to know the nuances of a business and the meaning of the words – like the legal implications of the words – you’ll know better how you can handle them.

Almost every industry has nuances like this. And in many cases, you can even target those keywords, but modify the content strategy to grab visibility in that space, while offering a different angle with the content that’s on your site.

Take the loan modification industry as an example: it’s highly regulated, and in certain states, you can’t say you offer certain features of a service even though there may be high search volume for that keyword.

But the audience is the same; those people are still looking for loan modifications. So in some cases, we can still target those keywords but offer a different angle in the SERPs with the content we create for the keywords, making sure it’s still relevant and useful but showcasing the alternative options that are in accordance with the law.

Marketing + Keyword Research Forever

With the lines between SEO and marketing becoming less defined, we all have to do our best to approach our SEO projects with not only the technical tactics, but also a true marketing mindset. The two can exist together in harmony and yes, even make one another better. With both marketing and technical SEO together, the website will be in it for the long haul.

TIP: Use our free SEO Tutorial for more guidance on keyword research and much more.



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